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Cash Assistance for Families

September 2020

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the rules around work and extensions for Temporary Family Assistance (TFA) make people eligible who were not before. You might qualify even if you were told in the past that you had used up your time.

If your family has very low income or no income at all, you may be able to get cash assistance.

If you cannot work because of a disability, you should also apply for Social Security disability and SSI. See the legal aid booklet, Disability and SSI.

Durante la pandemia de COVID-19, las reglas sobre el trabajo y las extensiones para la Asistencia Familiar Temporal (TFA) hacen elegible a las personas que antes no lo eran. Puede calificar incluso si le dijeron en el pasado que había gastado su tiempo.

Si su familia NO tiene ingresos o sus ingresos son muy BAJOS, puede ser elegible para recibir ayuda en efectivo. 

Si no puede trabajar debido a una discapacidad, también debería solicitar beneficios por incapacidad y SSI. Consulte nuestro folleto Incapacidad y SSI.

How much cash assistance could we get?

If you have children at home, a family of three could get about $570 a month in the form of TFA cash assistance.

How to apply: Get an application online at, from any DSS office, or by calling 1-855-626-6632. Fill it out and mail it to the Scanning Center (the address will be on the application) or take it to your local DSS office. Call 2-1-1 for the local DSS address. You will be contacted for an in-person interview. You should get a decision within 45 days of when you applied.

If you have a disability that makes it hard to do all the steps DSS asks when you apply, ask your DSS worker for help. Explain your disability and tell your worker what kind of help you need.

You can ask

  • for help filling out forms;
  • for help getting documents that you need; or
  • to meet with DSS in person or by phone, depending on which is better for you.

For how long can I get cash assistance?

If your family income stays low, you could get cash assistance for 21 months. After that, you could apply for two six-month extensions, for a total of 33 months.

During the COVID-19 emergency, you can continue to apply for and get additional extensions (up to 60 months) because the pandemic is considered to be a circumstance beyond your control.

Normally, after 33 months, you could get additional 6-month extensions (up to 60 months total) if you have two barriers that make it so you can only work in a limited way:

1. A child in the home who

  • has a serious physical or behavioral health problem, or
  • is having problems with the courts or the Department of Children and Families (DCF).

2. An adult in the home who

  • has a serious physical or mental health problem,
  • has a learning disability,
  • has substance abuse problems,
  • has problems with domestic violence,
  • can’t read English, or
  • has childcare or transportation problems that interfere with his or her ability to work.

You can apply for another extension at any time, even years after TFA ended if you have not used up 60 months.

Special help for victims of domestic violence

  1. If you are a victim of domestic violence, you may be able to get help extending your cash assistance from
  • your DSS worker, or
  • Statewide Legal Services at 1-800-453-3320.

Do you need help getting a restraining order?

Are there things we must do while we get cash assistance?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, work requirements are suspended. But normally, if the adult family members who get cash assistance are able to work, they must

  • work, or
  • do a work training program called JFES.

Able to work means you are not

  • disabled,
  • caring for a baby, or
  • caring for a disabled family member.

What is JFES?

JFES is short for Jobs First Employment Services Program. If you are not working, you will have to go to JFES before you can get benefits.

If you don’t go to JFES and cooperate with the program they develop for you, you may lose your cash assistance.

If DSS sends a notice saying you did not follow these rules Ask for a hearing right away, even if you do not need cash assistance now.

If you do not ask for a hearing, you may never be able to get cash assistance in the future.

What if we can’t work?

If your family is in a special situation, you may be exempt, which means you could get cash assistance for longer.

Here are some examples:

  • You have a baby at home who is under the age of 1.
  • None of the adults at home can work because
    • they have to stay home to care for a family member with a disability, or
    • they have a disability that prevents them from working.

Exempt families can get cash assistance for as long as they are eligible, even after 60 months. Even if you lost assistance because you broke a program rule, you could become eligible again if things in your life changed and you are now exempt.

If you are getting DSS emergency housing and cash assistance

Ask DSS if you can get help with

  • moving expenses;
  • expenses to store your things (in some situations);
  • money to pay a security deposit for heating;
  • money to pay a security deposit for a new apartment if you can afford the rent; and
  • fixing or replacing clothing or household items.

What if they want to stop my cash assistance?

If you get a notice from DSS reducing or ending your assistance you can ask for a hearing. If you ask for a hearing within 10 days of the notice your benefits will continue unchanged until the hearing decision.

Remember: Keep a copy of everything you give to DSS.

How do I ask for a hearing?

To ask for a hearing, you can

  • fill out and return the appeal form that came with the notice, or
  • mail or fax DSS a letter asking for a hearing.

If you decide to mail or fax DSS asking for a hearing, use the address or fax number printed on your notice. You can fax it to 860-424-5729.

Your letter should have the following:

  • Your name, address, the date, and your DSS client number.
  • Your reason for wanting a hearing.
  • Your signature.

Keep a copy of your letter and your fax confirmation.

Sample Appeal Letter

  55 Farmington Avenue
  Hartford, CT 06105

From: [Your Name, Address, & DSS Client Number]

[Put your reason here. For example:]

I want a fair hearing because my worker thinks I did not have good cause to leave my job, but I disagree.

[Your Signature]

Can I get help with my hearing?

Call Statewide Legal Services at 1-800-453-3320. If DSS made a mistake, you might be able to get a lawyer for your hearing.

Who will be at the hearing?

  • You.
  • Someone from DSS to explain why they think your cash assistance should stop.
  • An independent hearing officer (like a judge) who will decide your case.

What happens at the hearing?

  • The hearing officer may ask you why you think you should not lose your cash assistance.
  • Give the officer your answer. Also tell the officer that you want safety net services.
  • The hearing officer will ask DSS to explain their side.
  • The hearing officer will decide if he or she agrees with you or DSS.

What if I lose my cash assistance?

If you lose your cash assistance, you should

  • ask your DSS worker for safety net services, which can help you pay rent and other expenses; and
  • call 2-1-1 and ask for help.

Important: Even if you lose cash assistance, your medical coverage and SNAP should continue.

Get Help From Legal Aid

Age 60+: Get help from legal aid.
Under age 60: Find legal help or apply online.
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